Posts Tagged ‘books’

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Rope

January 30, 2020

Do you ever read a book and wish the author just cared a little bit more about the things you cared about? Rope, by Holworthy Hall, sounded perfect for me, and it could have been, with a slightly different emphasis. As it is, it’s pretty great.

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The Strange Countess

January 17, 2020

What is there to say about an Edgar Wallace thriller, really? They’re all good in the way his books are good and bad in the way his books are bad.

The Strange Countess focuses on Lois Margaritta Reddle, who is about to leave the lawyer’s office where she works to become secretary to the Countess of Moron. She also has a young man who follows her around–she assumes he’s angling for an introduction–and a mother in prison, although she doesn’t know that until a few chapters in. Someone keeps making attempts on Lois’ life, and the countess and her friend Chauncey Praye are definitely up to no good. The young man turns out to be a detective, who’s interest in Lois isn’t romantic–at first. Then there’s the countess’ son Selwyn, who isn’t as stupid as people think, and Lois’ roommate Lizzy Smith. They remind me a bit of Dolph and Hannah in Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion.

What else do you need to know? Someone shoots a couple of dogs, but offstage, so to speak.

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The Shuttle

January 13, 2020

I’ve been meaning to read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Shuttle for years, but somehow never managed to get there until I got a very compelling email about it from RQ reader Franziska. Yes, I knew it was about an American heiress marrying a titled Englishman, but did I know it featured a competent young woman restoring a crumbling estate, or an abusive husband being defied and punished? I couldn’t have, or I would have read it ages ago. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Billiard Room Mystery

January 6, 2020

Hi there. My New Year’s resolution is to update regularly again. We’ll see how it goes.Image result for brian flynn the billiard room mystery

Maybe starting with a bad book will make things easier? The Billiard Room, by Brian Flynn, is very bad. It feels like it was written by an alien whose only knowledge of human society was gleaned from other second rate country house mystery novels. Apparently it’s the first of a long series. I wonder if Flynn got any better, but I’m not curious enough to try to find out. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Spray on the Windows

July 20, 2018

The thing about Spray on the Windows (by J.E. Buckrose) is that I’ve only just admitted to myself, a month and a half after finishing it, that I don’t like it. I feel guilty about that, because it’s not bad. It’s just that Buckrose’s thesis is that no matter how much life sucks, it’s going to be okay if you’re with the person you love, and to prove that thesis, she has to make life suck pretty bad. For most of the book, things are sort of okay, but you know where it’s going, and “how unhappy is everyone going to be?” is my least favorite kind of suspense.

Our protagonist is Ann Middleton, who has just moved to the seaside town of Wodenscar to work for the wealthy and eccentric Mrs. Barrington. Mrs. Barrington has a nephew who Ann would like to marry, and he likes her, too — but not necessarily enough to offer her marriage. Then there’s Ann’s neighbor Stephen Finlay, poor and disgraced and possibly a bit of an obstacle to Ann marrying for money.

You get to stress through her romantic decisions, stress through her married life, and stress through some possibly supernatural deaths and near-deaths. It’s…not that much fun. But I suspect that if I was a little less prone to anxiety, I would have liked it a lot more.

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The Third Miss St. Quentin

October 5, 2017

I’ve been avoiding Mary Louisa Molesworth’s books for years, for no reason I can explain, but sometimes I go looking for something Cinderella-y and this time her The Third Miss St. Quentin was the thing that I found. And I’m glad of that, because it’s really good.

When I go looking for Cinderella stories, it’s because I don’t have a better way to look for what I really want: stories about people who are treated badly for a while and then get to have lots of nice things. The Third Miss St. Quentin isn’t that at all. Instead, it’s sort of a riff on the plot of Cinderella, but with a completely different emotional arc. The keynote of the story is that the Cinderella character is actually treated really well by almost everyone, almost all of the time. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Room 13

January 30, 2013

I am all set to go on an Edgar Wallace kick. It will actually be a delayed-onset Edgar Wallace kick. Thursday last week I was hunting around for something to read and found myself wishing I owned more Edgar Wallace. I eventually settled for one of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books — and then three more — but the yen for Edgar Wallace was still there and last night I went over to Project Gutenberg Australia (is it illegal for me to download post-1923 books from there? I don’t think I want to know) and read Room 13, featuring Wallace’s series detective J.G. Reeder.

So, here’s the thing about Edgar Wallace — I’ve talked about it before — every time I try to write about one of his books in particular I end up taking about his books in general. It’s like most authors’ books are individual objects, which can be discussed and compared, but Edgar Wallace’s fiction is a fairly homogenous substance to be measured out in page-lengths. I’m going to pretend for a moment that it’s not, though, and that Room 13 stands alone and has nothing to do with any other book. And when I am done, I will have described a pretty typical Edgar Wallace thriller. Read the rest of this entry ?